XTAR D26 Whale Review | LED Diving Torch for underwater foraging/hunting
“Overall, this has been one of the best dive torches I’ve used. It’s bright, durable and easy to secure.” – Cam
Cam lives and dives mainly around Sydney although him and I have dived in Victoria and South Australia using this torch. I asked Cam to put together a review based on the hectic use he has given it chasing mainly Eastern Rock Lobsters. Here is the rest of what he had to say. – Shrek
In particular, the brightness of the XTAR D26 Whale is great, and is probably the best dive torch I’ve used for both brightness and illumination. It has four brightness settings, getting up to a strong 1100lm, which can apparently reach up to 310m on land but also makes a solid effort under the water.
The torch has what it calls the “unique side switch (patented) and power indication”. The power indication light is a really handy warning tool. The light is green normally, but it turns to red when it is between 25% and 5% and then flashes below 5%. The locking mechanism of the side switch takes a little bit to get used to. You need to hold the switch down and then twist it to the left 90 degrees to lock it in place. While locking systems are good so you don’t bump it in tight spaces, this one can be a little hard if you need to use it with one hand or a thumb if your other hand is otherwise occupied (such as reaching for a cray).
At almost 300g it is a bit weightier than most, however, I actually don’t mind that and it doesn’t impact much as soon as you’re in the water.
The lanyard/wrist strap that’s included is actually really good. It might not sound important, but the length of it is long enough to be able to stow it and the toggle doesn’t slip when locked, so you can keep it tied to your wrist without worrying. This is important when it’s not in your hand, as you often can’t feel it through your wetsuit or glove.
The quality seems to be great and it has been relatively maintenance free. I’ve been using it for over a year now without any issues of corrosion or any water appearing to get into the working parts. However, there are two spare O-rings included in case you need them.
A fun addition is that it also has a standard tripod screw hole, which allows it to be fixed to items such as a dive photography system, a handle, or a wrist mount.
Four brightness settings up to 1100lm: 60/200/600/1100
Colour temperature: 6000K
Beam throw: 310m
IP rating: IPX8
Material: Anodized aircraft 6N01 aluminium alloy
Dimensions: 155mm x 46mm
Weight: 293g (including battery)
Battery: 18650/18700/26650 Li-ion batteries (26550 5000mAh rechargeable battery was included in the set with a charger)
Run time: up to 48h on low or 2h on “turbo” (1100lm)
Max diving depth: 100m
Spot light angle: 5 degrees
Here’s a vid of Cam and Shrek using the dive torch in South Australia
“This delicious crowd pleaser of a recipe is perfect for when you are having a few guests over and want to put on a good feed. We have used a coastal fingermark in this exact recipe here but you could try whichever whole fish you’d like. One whole fish around that 45cm mark will happily feed 2 people, top it off with some nice fresh greens as a side and your onto a winner. We hope you guys enjoy this dish just as much as we do, cheers!” – Jordan Hunter@the_hunter_downunder
For the fish
Medium whole fish, filleted and cut into chunks. Keep the frame for presentation
Rice bran oil – for shallow frying
3/4 cup of soy sauce
3/4 cup sushi seasoning
2 Tbs ginger, grated
Use the soy sauce, sushi seasoning and ginger to marinade the fish frame and chunks. Leave in fridge for 1-3 hours.
Heat oil in pan, coat marinated fish frame in tapioca flour. Shallow fry. Repeat with marinated fish chunks.
Place cooked fish chunks on the frame for presentation.
Chilli tamarind dipping sauce
1/2 cup coriander, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 long fresh red chillies, coarsely chopped 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
1/3 cup shaved palm sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1-2 tbsp water
Blend coriander, garlic, chilli and salt to a paste in the nutri bullet. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir-fry the paste for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the shallot and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add tamarind, sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Lime and coriander drizzle
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp garlic
1 chilli, chopped finely
1/4 cup of coriander, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cubes of palm sugar, finely chopped
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
All ingredients in a pouring dish, mix well and let sit for 30 mins to infuse.
This post was made with the permission of Christopher Marsic, a new member on the Noob Spearo Community on Facebook who introduced himself with this story. I liked it so much, I asked him if I could share it on the Noob Spearo Vault blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! – Shrek
I live in Victoria (soon to be Mackay QLD) and I guess my biggest struggle was overcoming the conditions down this way to chase those rare southern gems.
In my early days of spearfishing 10 years ago I spent a lot of time diving Port Phillip Bay, which when I first started I thought was the best thing ever! I would jump in after work in horrible visibility 2-4m (on a good day where I lived) and would swim around for hours I started off like all spearos shooting the feared dusky morwong, but before long I worked my way up to bream and snapper and became pretty decent at getting onto the pinkies.
Most places in the bay I dived had an maximum depth of around 3m however I was super interested in the breath hold part of spearfishing so I started doing some research and that’s when I found the spearing down under magazines. I’ll never forget the first time I put one of those DVDs on and my jaw hit the floor … Watching these guys descend deep into the blue then shoot these monster fish really got me excited to get better at the sport.
After doing tons of research and learning about blackouts etc I decided it would be best to find a dive buddy so I headed to the forums back then you had to jump on a website forum there wasn’t fb groups those days that’s when I met one of my best friends to this date Jai KP and he basically introduced me to ocean diving and man that first dive in the ocean changed everything! I never wanted to dive the bay again! Little did I know this was a double edge sword.
Although there is good fish to be had here in Victoria it is very based on season and in that season you only get handful of days you can actually get in the water especially from shore. You gotta align our constant big swell, low wind and the right time of the year.
Don’t get me wrong;
– this didn’t stop me getting in the water all the time but it was hard going and not super rewarding for the beginner, so I turned my attention north, over the next few years I would dive locations like Bermagui, Eden and Townsville which made the motivation to get back into the water in Victoria super low.
I basically repeated this trend of going north and diving then coming back to Vic and basically only diving those perfect days until about 2 years ago when I took the plunge and bought a jetski and boy did that change everything.
I started becoming obsessed with getting a blue fin tuna the jet-ski I got was super capable and I soon found that as long was the wind was good it didn’t really matter what the swell was doing (within reason) I could get out to my favourite parts of Vic the South West. I proceeded to spend the next month chasing tuna seeing them time and time again but either the viz was really bad and I’d just catch a glimpse of them or they would just hang out of shooting range and pass me by.
But then it happened …
…it was towards the end of the day and I had basically called it on the tuna and headed in to an island for a bit of a look for crays and to get some footage of seals, but on my way in to the island the sounder lit up in 60m of water and I knew exactly what they were, I had the gun in the gunnel ready to go attached to my two Riffe floats which was then attached to the ski, I rolled off the side of the ski into the blue breathed up and swam down to around the 10m mark, as I was swimming down I was just surrounded by massive tuna it was absolutely awesome and super hard to keep calm I lined up one of the smaller ones that came in close as I had no idea how hard the fight would be and pulled the trigger.
Ever since that day I’ve been a lot better at finding the blues and it has reignited my love for spearing, I never imagined 10 years ago when I shot my first dusky that I would be shooting Bluefin tuna.
Absolutely love spearfishing and its journey that it brings and I cannot wait to start my new journey when I move to Mackay, Queensland later this year .
Hello Shrek, my name’s Guilherme and I’m a Portuguese spearo. I was listening to your podcast with Josh Bollen and you guys were talking about cooking octopus. In Portugal we have lots and lots of octopus recipes and some tricks to cook them. Unfortunately I didn’t finish my submission for the cook book 99 Spearo Recipes but I still gave my support on Kickstarter. Anyway here are some tricks to cook octopus:
1. ALWAYS freeze them.
What makes the octopus so tough are it’s his muscles and when you freeze them you’re helping to loosen and break some of them down.
2. ALWAYS boil the octopus even before grilling them.
Here is how you boil them. Put water to boil in a pot with nothing more than a glove of garlic and a whole onion. Both without being cut up. When the water is boiling, get the octopus and start submerging it for a few seconds and take it out. Wait a few seconds and do it again like 3 times or so. Then you let it boil on a low heat for about 30-45 mins depending on the size of the octopus.
For some yummy Portuguese octopus dishes, search;
“polvo à lagareiro“
“arroz de polvo“
“pataniscas de polvo“
“alcatra de polvo“.
The last is also a traditional dish that we eat on Christmas. Let me know if there’s still a chance to submit a recipe! Thanks for all the great content keep it up!
If you consider how many different video game titles there are, which cater towards people who are fans of, or partake in various hobbies and interests, it could be considered strange that spearfishing is rarely something covered in this genre of popular culture. Video games can often spark an extra interest in whatever activity they’re based upon, so it would be good if they could be used to attract a new audience to spearfishing, too.
These titles are often also used as a different way for people to enjoy their passion during some downtime, or sometimes develop their craft further, by mimicking and practicing the actions they use on the racetrack or on the field, for example. But amongst the plethora of titles available, there’s only a few that reference our favorite pastime.
One of the most notable games amongst that handful is Freediving Hunter: Spearfishing The World, which was released on the Xbox One and on the PC. It was received quite well, with people enjoying how unique it was. Now, as people are gaming on their phones, tablets, console and PCs, it would be good to consider what options there could be to encourage more people to sample the underwater experience.
There has been a huge rise in the number of people picking up Virtual Reality capable devices over the past few years. In our article on ‘Training for Spearfishing’, it’s clear the best training available is spearfishing. Whilst this maybe true, it may not be possible for people to get out into the water as regular as they like. So, a realistic, VR based experience would be the next best thing. The immersion offered in VR is second to none, after all we’ve already noted, people in other disciplines utilize gaming to better their physical and mental skills. Bringing the underwater experience into homes via VR could be the ideal way of showing off everything that our activity has to offer.
Away from the ultra-realistic world of VR, there could be a place for a simpler, more accessible title. After all, Ridiculous Fishing, which was released on mobile was a huge hit with gamers, not just fishermen and women. Some of the biggest hits found in the app stores are the simpler titles, which soon gather a massive following due to their easy to pick up and play elements. With over 6 billion people now owning smartphones, is there any better way of raising awareness of the thrills of being a spearo, than introducing it to the commuter friendly platform?
Another growth area in gaming is online slots with more people taking to that pastime during the last 18 months. One reason is that there’s an almost endless choice of titles available. Amidst that limitless variety of slots now online, Foxy Bingo’s games currently feature a few titles that actually relate to fishing. “Fishin’ For Wins” and “Slingone Fishin’” for instance take slot players to the seas. With their bright graphics, and cool mini-games, they’ve proved popular. There are now fishing, and scuba diving slots already so it would be fantastic to see spearfishing represented, too.
Mini game in a huge title
Now we’ve thought about games in their own right, which spearfishing does deserve. But over the past ten or so years there’s been an explosion in mini-games within bigger titles. Some of which have then gained that much interest that they’ve sparked their own following. In Grand Theft Auto for example, there are so many people that head into the game just to compete in the mini-games available. Spearfishing could be a real addition to the next GTA game, it would certainly fit in with the title. Boats are available in the game for players to ‘buy’, so the natural progression would be to introduce the option of becoming a spearo too, right? The exposure gained from spearfishing being introduced to this franchise alone would be stratospheric, putting the activity firmly in the mind of the gamer.
We hope you enjoyed our look at the some of the options to bring spearfishing to a wider audience, raising more awareness and hopefully growing the numbers of people who are getting involved.
Dive watches are becoming increasingly popular within the spearfishing world, and I believe they pack massive benefits when used correctly. However, like most of my ideas regarding spearfishing topics, my opinion on dive watches may come across as controversial. I don’t believe you need a dive watch, and I would go so far as to say that using a dive watch has the potential to do more harm than good. Whilst I have used a dive watch sporadically throughout my time, I have never personally owned one. As such, my experience comes from using friend’s watches, or using the devices provided on freediving courses.
I was prompted to write this article after more than a few people at the start of their spearfishing journey messaged me to ask what dive watch they needed for spearfishing.
I’ve been spearfishing for about 15 years now. I had started after watching a friend who was involved in the sport, and instantly I was hooked. In fact here’s a pic of me back in the day 👇👇
Prior to spearfishing, I already had a massive connection with the ocean, which I had gained from snorkeling at a young age, and jumping off big cliffs around Torquay into the ocean. This involved avoiding rocks both above and below the water, which was dangerous stuff.
I had already been spearfishing for a couple of years before completing a PADI scuba course for my birthday. This was when I began to learn more about the technical side of diving, and whilst most of this wasn’t too relevant to spearfishing or freediving, it did put a dive computer on my wrist and teach me to keep an eye on my depth. From then on, I wasn’t too enthused by scuba diving. Lugging all the gear around seemed incredibly restricting and unnatural after years of spearfishing. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic experience.
The next time I used a dive watch was on a spearfishing trip in Fiji, where I trialed one for a week and a half of diving, and subsequently on freediving courses I completed in Malta and the UK. I enjoyed the novelty of having a dive watch and the ability to precisely calculate depth instead of just going “yeahhh that’s about 12m”. I have also since borrowed friend’s watches whilst diving in the UK, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines.
I can understand how dive watches can be beneficial to spearos, and I have witnessed this through my primary dive buddy Andy. He purchased a dive watch, and this pushed him to accentuate his diving through deeper dives and extended bottom times. It’s an excellent device for sure and used correctly.
Here’s what I don’t like about dive watches
I have unfortunately witnessed individuals become fixated on the digits that dive watches produce, which I believe is dangerous because it can mislead and distract a diver from the dangers of depth and breath-hold.
I’d go one step further by stating that dive watches can, and have, killed people. I dive each day according to the day. I do not time each dive, nor do I record the depths to which I’m diving. I play each day as it comes. Some days, I feel more comfortable and will go deeper. Other days I don’t. Now whilst I have a rubbish conception of time in the water (sorry to anyone who has done a 6 hour + dive with me waiting for me to come back to shore), I do have my GoPro recording some dives, so I know roughly what my bottom times are.
Some clips show me on the bottom for 20 seconds. Other dives have shown me on the bottom for close to 2 minutes when distracted by marine life, deep in thought or waiting for a fish to come in to be shot.
I instinctively listen to my body. Without the dive watch, I am less focused on comparing myself to previous performances and more focused on just listening to what my body is saying. Each day is uniquely different and your body’s condition, its fuel (food and drink), mental state, water temperature, visibility, fish life, the weather, location with also differ day to day all of these things play a factor in your breath-hold.
I generally believe no two dives are the same. Whilst they may be incredibly similar, all it takes is one extra fish on the bottom that manages to grab your attention to be enough to impact your breath-hold.
This is because distractions or tasks can allow you to ignore the body’s natural alarm system. Some of the longest dives I have on camera are me watching a strange interaction or waiting for that fish just hanging on the edge to come in that little closer.
Having a dive watch on your wrist allows you to concentrate on exactly how long you’ve been holding your breath and at what depth you are at. This is why I find them so dangerous, as divers can become so fixated on the numbers and achieving certain goals instead of listening to their body’s innate response to the dive time and depth. Hence, unless you are explicitly capable of seeing the numbers as only a useful set of data and not a standard level of achievement, dive watches can be a dangerous tool.
Let’s say you can dive all day to 20m with a minute on the bottom each dive. If you are diving in 14m and you begin to feel slightly uncomfortable, you may check your watch and discover that you’ve only been holding your breath for 20 seconds. You will see the depth and time displayed and decide to hold for at least another 40 seconds as expected from a typical dive. This is where watches can be bloody dangerous.
Another situation where I find dive watches to be dangerous is when dives are combined with a competitive and self-determined personality. This is a personality trait that I sometimes apply to really random things but thankfully, not spearfishing anymore. By constantly seeking to beat previously recorded times, it can land you in a world of trouble. Some dive watches will calculate surface rest times and provide the user with a beep to let them know when it’s safe to dive again. They may also lock until sufficient time has passed to prevent you from diving before a reasonable surface rest interval. This is an excellent feature, but again you shouldn’t disregard what your body tells you just because your watch says it’s okay to dive.
Other funky features of dive watches, such as water temperature, may indicate to you when it’s likely to encounter certain species of fish, which is of course a general timekeeping piece. To summarise, I think dive watches are an excellent tool for spearfishing if the individual uses them as a guide and not as a target. I do think they can absolutely improve the safety of a spearo.
However, you should always listen to your body first and foremost. It’s trying to keep you alive, so pay attention! Don’t hold yourself to the performance of your past dives and understand that your performance in the water will fluctuate from day to day, which is totally normal and perfectly okay.
You should only attempt deep dives and personal bests in the company of experienced/trained friends with ideal conditions.
If you are just getting into spearfishing, I’d advise you to not bother with a dive watch to begin with, focus on developing basic snorkel and hunting techniques, as you progress then maybe consider a freediving course and have a play with one there. You can also borrow one off a mate or rent one before committing to purchasing one, as you progress further in your spearfishing journey.
As I said, I’ve been spearfishing for 15 years, and I have never owned a freediving/spearfishing watch, and yet I rarely go hungry (unless there’s a greedy no-good thieving seal about).
My gear laid out prior to a Hike and Spear mission!
Wet Mammal’s Top Tip: Remove your watch before you try removing your wetsuit jacket! Sounds obvious, but if you know someone with a dive watch, I bet they’ve got themselves into a pickle.
Why don’t I have a dive watch? In part, because I’m a tight arse, and I genuinely don’t have a need for it for the ground of NSW that I frequently dive. It’s enough to get a delicious feed from, and that’s all I’m after. If I lived in areas that required deeper and longer dives, I would be more likely to purchase and use one. On the other hand, I don’t know if I could trust myself diving solo and become distracted by the digits. I also enjoy going for long dives and having the excuse of not knowing what the time was if I missed important dates. With a timepiece on my wrist, the claim wouldn’t stand as well. Perhaps I wrote this whole article to convince close friends and family they are dangerous so I can keep arriving late to meetings while still wet.
Ultimately, a lot of spearfishing comes down to knowing your limitations and discovering your limits gently in good conditions and with qualified or capable people.